Cho Sun Ok (Restaurant, North Center)
Location: 4200 N Lincoln Ave, North Center
Cuisine: Korean BBQ
It had been a long time since I had last eaten authentic Korean food, so I took advantage recently when a friend was in town getting her South Korean visa and crashing on my couch. I had an obligation in Lincoln Square earlier in the night, so we decided on a late dinner at a nearby establishment. It took us a little time to decide on a spot, but we finally found Cho Sun Ok, a Korean BBQ in nearby North Center.
Korean Barbeque is different from other Korean restaurants, so be careful when selecting your dining experience. If barbeque is in the restaurant description, it suggests that the tables will be fitted with built-in or add-on burners or stoves for diners to cook their own food. At Cho Sun Ok, the menu offers various meal packages, and diners handle all fried rice dishes and entrees right at the table.
My friend and I, ravenous as we were, decided to share a meal for two, which at Cho Sun Ok are all under $30 and well proportioned for two people. We ordered the Bulgogi, a traditional beef dish. Servers promptly brought out a giant bowl of raw beef and vegetables along with about 12 small plates of sides. We heaped the meat onto our sizzling skillet on our table, and while occasionally stirring, sampled our sides. The sides were all vegetarian and ranged from potato salad to Kimchi to bean sprouts to sticky rice. Once our meat was thoroughly stir-fried, we both melted at the flavorful beef, which we shoveled onto beds of rice and paired with the various sides for an exquisite and complex taste.
The dining is casual but intimate and the décor is simple. This restaurant isn’t about wowing the crowds; it’s about the food. The delicious, delicious food. I wore workout clothes, and although I would have fit in better in a casual dress or skinny jeans, we blended nicely with the young, twenty and thirty-something crowd. Judging from the size of the dining room and the nature of the cuisine, this restaurant would be good for small groups (under eight) and dates. Just make sure your companions like sharing and are willing to be adventurous.
Before coming to Cho Sun Ok, you should keep a few things in mind. The first (and maybe most important to some of you) is that it’s BYOB. Don’t worry — if you show up without that beer or wine of choice in hand, a Jewel Osco is conveniently located just up the street on Lincoln Avenue. Next, expect to be seated close to other parties, and, in particular, groups sharing several plates of food, so if you’re arriving on a date, be sure to take into consideration a louder atmosphere.
If you are open to the experience of tasting several small plates and cooking your own food, Cho Sun Ok will be a fun and filling way to spend your evening.